I usually bring a rod, cast net and bucket - that’s all. If I lose my hook or I can’t catch bait, I go home. I start with a light to medium action rod and reel. I usually use 10 lb. to 20 lb. monofilament line, mainly because the snook can see everything in the clear water and they are already spooky. Time after time I have seen them turn away from a bait because of the braided line over their head. I use a 20 lb. mono leader and a medium hook with the barb filed off. I cast net for whatever bait is prevalent, usually greenbacks or finger mullet. The bait catching can be half of the fun!
Once I have bait, I start walking. It’s not uncommon to walk many miles up and down the beach looking for a snook. Sometimes there are many, often there are few. When I see one, I quickly figure out which way he is headed. If he is headed my way, I throw the bait. If he is headed away, I walk high up on the beach while keeping an eye on him until I am ahead of him. I cast the bait in the path of the snook at least 10 feet in front of him for a natural presentation. Seeing a tasty baitfish falling out of the sky on top of their head seems to make them a little leery. I crouch down to make a lower profile so as not to be seen. These are very intelligent fish, and they seem to know I am holding a fishing rod. Many times they swim by as though they’re aware of my intentions. I keep walking forward and keep presenting the bait to the same fish. Eventually they will hit it, and hit it hard! I set the hook quickly and begin the fight. Snook on the beach seem to jump more than if you catch them inshore. I land them quickly, and release them just as quickly. There have been days where I have caught up to 50 snook while sight fishing on the beach.
Summertime is a catch and release only time for snook. I use a barbless hook to cause less damage. I always set the hook quickly to keep the hook from being swallowed. After every fish caught, I re-tie the hook to prevent it from being lost from a frayed leader. I try to land snook “green”, and always take the time to revive them fully before release. When they are handled with respect, the snook will recover quickly and be on their way.
These are behaviors I have gotten into the habit of following, and they are infectious to the other anglers I see out there. The beach snook run lasts roughly from May through August in Southwest Florida. I hope to see some of you on the beaches!
About the Author: Bob Bramblet is an avid tournament angler, competing in local, regional and national events. He is the President of the Southwest Florida Kayak Angler’s Association at www.swfkaa.com, and Captain of the Blue Line Fishing Team at www.bluelinefishingteam.com. Bob also writes kayak fishing articles and reviews for several online resources and kayak fishing magazines. He can usually be found fishing his home waters of Estero Bay or Pine Island Sound, where he has been fishing for over 20 years.